Dog Shot After Hiker Mistakes It for a Wolf

A dog has been shot in the head at a campsite in Idaho after a camper mistook her for a wolf when she ran towards the shooter's pet.

The owner of the shot dog, Robert Kolb, told KUTV that the incident occurred on Saturday at a campsite located at North Fork Lake in Custer County, Idaho, while he was on a camping trip with his 16-year-old daughter.

Kolb said that at around 7:30 a.m. he left their tent to use the bathroom and his dog, an Alaskan Malamute called Suki, followed him outside. He told The Idaho Statesman that he went back inside the tent to continue sleeping because it was raining, while Suki stayed outside around the camp.

He said that around an hour later he was awoken by a gunshot that was "crazy close" and then heard two more shots ring out in quick succession.

Kolb said that he quickly got dressed while shouting for Suki who was still outside, but confirmed that "by the time I got out of the tent, there were three guys saying 'I think we shot your dog.'"

The Kolbs then saw Suki lying on the ground around 5 feet from the tent suffering from a gunshot wound to the left side of her head, with blood dripping from both the dog's mouth and left ear.

"I was crazy mad," Kolb told KUTV about his initial reaction to the shooting. "And I was concerned for myself and my daughter that somebody just shot a gun at camp."

The unidentified man who shot Suki told Kolb that he did so because he had seen her running towards his dog and thought that she was a wolf. The man said that he initially fired a warning shot before firing twice more and only realized his error when he saw the dog's collar.

Kolb and his daughter packed up their tent and belongings and began the three-and-a-half-mile-long walk back to their car, but were given a lift by the shooter the rest of the way back to their vehicle.

They then rushed to the closest veterinarian clinic in Ketchum where Suki underwent emergency surgery. The bullet missed Suki's brain and spinal cord, but the dog suffered cracked vertebrae and lost part of her left ear in the incident.

Suki is expected to be fine once she recovers from the injuries suffered, and the shooter agreed to pay for the medical bills. "He did all the right things after the big wrong thing," Kolb told the Statesman.

Kolb told KUTV that he shared his story to try to get people to think more carefully about gun safety in wilderness areas "Without a doubt, we sure hope the people who pack guns in the wilderness will be a little more sure at what they are shooting at," he said.

He said that he reported the incident to the Custer County Sheriff's Office, but has not yet heard back. "It has crushed our family to have gone through this," Kolb said. "And hope it doesn't happen to anyone else."

The Idaho State Senate approved a controversial law in May that would remove the 15-a-year cap on hunting wolves in the state and would expand trapping season on private land to all year long.

The bill would make those activities legal as long as Idaho's wolf population stayed above the conservation number of 150, which is around 90 percent of the current figure in the state.

There are currently around 1,500 wolves in Idaho according to the state's Department of Fish and Game.

Newsweek has contacted the Custer County Sheriff's Office for comment.

Alaskan malamute shot when mistaken for wolf
Alaskan malamute dog sitting between pine trees in winter forest. Selective focus. An alaskan malamute was shot in the head at a lake campsite in Idaho after a camper mistook her for a wolf when she ran towards the shooter’s pet. SStajic/iStock / Getty Images Plus